Are you committed to Christ and His church?
A core distinctive of Charis Classical Academy is gospel-centeredness. The gospel is the good news of salvation to those who are “dead in their trespasses and sins.” It is the declaration that Jesus Christ, God in flesh, has fully satisfied the law’s demands through his obedience, died under the law’s curse for our disobedience, and been raised to life for our vindication of righteousness before God. Christ’s righteousness is received solely through faith – an abiding trust that Jesus has died and been raised for us, and that there is now “no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
Although salvation must be received through personal trust, salvation is not merely individual. God is not creating a rock collection of isolated and unconnected individuals, but through living stones, He is building a spiritual house for His glory. He saves a people for Himself and binds them together in one body to build itself up in love. Those who love Christ will love His bride. This is the mark of true disciples of Christ (John 13:34-35). Families seeking acceptance to Charis should love the church organically, building relationships with other Christians across denominational lines, caring for one another in word and deed, and prizing the work of God in other believers. Parents should also love the church institutionally, recognizing that it is through particular, local churches that God nourishes believers through His means of grace and displays His glory in the world. For this reason, families must be vitally connected to a local church and prioritize the glory of Christ above other goals.
Do you value an academically vigorous and time-intensive education?
What is a vigorous education? Perhaps the very word immediately communicates rigor — an inflexible and cold iron bar; a standard etched into iron for it will never be changed; the weapon-smith hunched over his grindstone, honing the dead metal in a shower of sparks. Rather, vigor means to be full of life or strong. It is characteristic of the centuries-old oak, that although it is immovable, it is strong because it is so alive; its roots reach deep. A vigorous education seeks to cultivate those deep roots for students so that they may be strong and full of life.
This foundation cannot be achieved without time, effort, challenge, and a steady diet of soul-nourishing ideas. As a school in the classical tradition, students at Charis often wrestle with old and difficult books and ideas. To soak up and comprehend these ideas requires mental effort, and the time dedicated to thinking about them. Older students are expected to work hard, and may have to trade-off some recreational activities (or bad habits), but Charis also recognizes the necessity of play and leisure. As general rule, students 7th grade and up should expect to spend, on average, 6-8 hours working on satellite days (Tuesdays and Thursdays).
Due to the nature of the curriculum, students may outpace a parent’s ability to assist in homework around 5th-6th grade as they continue further into Latin, great books, or advanced math. Parents should be prepared to help students by coaching good study habits, by engaging and talking with students about the ideas that they are discovering, and by encouraging students to work diligently and faithfully without becoming obsessed with grades. We desire for students to soar with strong wings trained through zeal and effort, but who are not tethered to the earth with an iron chain of performance-anxiety.
Are you committed to the development of your children’s character?
Perhaps the most central aspect of a good education is not what a student will learn, but who they will become. Both locksmiths and burglars can pick locks — they practice the same skill — but whether they are praised or blamed for it depends upon their character and motive. As a school committed to the development of wisdom and virtue, we take character seriously. This includes how students respond to adversity, treat their peers and authorities, show diligence and faithfulness in their work, seek to grow into the image of Christ, and receive correction. Are you a parent who values the character of your child at least as much as their academic performance? As a university-model school, it is essential both that parents are faithful to correct their children at home, and also that parents support teachers and administration as they compassionately, but firmly discipline children who are misbehaving. We do not expect any child (or parent) to be perfect, but we do expect parents to desire growth in their children’s character and to work towards that end.
Do you value a virtue-focused, liberal arts driven education in the western tradition?
Rather than being a one-size-fits-all, or generic bowl of mush to which students and parents must add their own flavoring, Charis aims to cultivate wisdom and virtue in all students. This is done through the great books primarily from the western tradition, and with the seven liberal arts (grammar, logic, rhetoric, arithmetic, geometry, music, and astronomy). Charis does not offer a high number of electives or a broad smattering of courses, but requires a large core curriculum to allow students to know multum, non multa (much about one thing, not little about many things). Rather than being focused on basic job preparation or mere practical utility, classical education seeks to restore the “lost tools of learning” and give the ability to know and enjoy what is ”true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and worthy of praise” (Phil. 4:8).
Are you committed to having an expanded role in your child’s education?
As a university-model school, Charis requires a high degree of parental involvement. In the early grades, this involves occasionally teaching small lessons on Tuesdays and Thursdays and working with young students on reading, math facts, and science projects. As students transition to become more independent, parents transition to a coach and mentor role, but still must help students form wise study habits, learn how to find solutions on their own, and persist through difficult assignments. Depending on student ability, personality, and previous school background, some students may require more assistance from parents through teaching, review, and close monitoring of assignments.
Does your family value learning and books?
The most important factor in a child’s love of learning is their home life. Families who love to read and learn often have children who love books, science, geography, history, and math and seek to integrate all these facets into an integrated whole. We desire for our graduates to see the world as an organic whole and to love to learn new things and apply their knowledge for the common good. As imitators who learn from models, the most successful students will come from families who desire to cultivate a culture of learning. Families who do not enjoy reading, taking trips to libraries or museums, and growing in knowledge would not likely find our school curriculum a good fit.